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Scanning Basics

Calibrate your monitor – We recommend using Adobe gamma software or a third party software. Your monitor and lighting will alter the way an image looks. If your monitor isn't calibrated you could be making color corrections based on inaccurate information. We advise reading the Adobe Photoshop manual for more information on this topic.

Scan images at a high resolution - Scan two times the line screen of the output device. American Printing's default line screen is 150. For 150 line screen, your images should be 300 ppi (300 dpi) for placement at 100%. Line art scans should be scanned at the resolution of your output device, but for file size purposes, 1,200 ppi (300 dpi) is acceptable.

Test your scanner - Test the quality of your scanner by scanning a grayscale test strip that has stepped increments of black ranging from 0% to 100%. You may purchase one at most photography stores and are guaranteed to be accurate. Once scanned, open the test strip in Photoshop and use the picker to check the black dot in each square. This will show you if your scanner is off in highlights, midtones, or shadows. If you click on the 50% square but only get a reading of 43%, your scans will be flat in the midtones. Once you know your scanner, you can modify your scans accordingly by adjusting curves.

Try to achieve a 3% highlight dot and 93% shadow dot in the lightest and darkest areas of your scans - This range will provide good contrast and tonal range. If you do not capture enough pixels when scanning, you cannot replace them during the color-correcting phase.

Use RGB mode for all photo manipulation except color correcting. If you work in Photoshop, which we recommend, most filters are only available in RGB mode. Once you are ready to color correct, convert your scans to CMYK mode. Watch for colors that cannot be reproduced with inks. The Gamut Warning function in Photoshop will show the colors in your scan that will not print. It will show you the closest reproducible colors, which can be dramatically different.

Test some images with scatters - If your budget and time permit, send some test images to your printer or service provider and have a contract proof made. Use these proofs to judge how accurate your monitor and scanning equipment are and then make calibration adjustments accordingly.

Take advantage of your printer's expertise - If you do not feel comfortable about your equipment or training, let one of American's experienced operators create quality scans for you. Poor scans will detract from the overall look of professionally designed and printed pieces.

There are many different methods for improving your scans. We also recommend the book titled Real World Scanning and Halftones.




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10 Common DTP Errors
Scanning Basics


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